The Bellbird River Country Choir by Sophie Green. (2022).
**4.5 out of 5 stars**
In 1998 teacher and single mum Alex has arrived in a small NSW country town to escape Sydney and reconnect with her daughter. Town matriarch Victoria and her globe-trotting, opera-singing cousin Gabrielle are at crossroads in their personal and professional lives. Local baker Janine and newcomer Debbie are each secretly dealing with the consequences of painful pasts. Bellbird River is a small dusty town with one pub, but it has some surprises and the heart is the Bellbird River Country Choir. In the choir each of the women will find the courage to leave the past behind, and that friends are much closer to home than they realised.
I have adored all of this author’s novels and this one is no exception. Alternating perspectives between the five women mentioned in the synopsis, readers get to see how despite their different life circumstances the women become connected through a local choir. With a strong small-town vibe (everyone is all up in everyone else’s business), the large choir is the heart of the town and provides strength to those in it in different ways. The characters face some big every day realistic issues like divorce, illness, reconnecting with family and children, relocation, relationship complications and so on.
Overall: highly recommend this Australian novel that showcases the importance of friends supporting one another through the trials of life, as well as advocating for women to go after what they truly want in life.